Update: The Cook County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Wednesday afternoon that R. Kelly was taken into custody after a hearing over unpaid child support; the singer allegedly owes more than $160,000. The child-support case is unrelated to the charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse filed last month.
In his first interview since his arrest last month on charges of sexual abuse, embattled R&B singer R. Kelly lashed out on “CBS This Morning,” at several points yelling and saying his multiple accusers were lying and conspiring against him.
During the segment that aired Wednesday, Gayle King pressed him on the allegations made by dozens of people who were interviewed in a widely watched Lifetime docuseries. “Surviving R. Kelly” brought renewed attention to the sexual misconduct claims that have followed the singer for years.
"Everybody says something bad about me,” Kelly said of the series. “Nobody said nothing good. They were describing Lucifer. I’m not Lucifer, I’m a man. I make mistakes, but I’m not a devil, and by no means am I a monster.”
Kelly called claims that he held women against their will “stupid” and said that “the power of social media” was to blame. “I have been assassinated. I have been buried alive,” he said. Then he erupted.
“Forget the blogs, forget how you feel about me. Hate me if you want to, love me if you want. But just use your common sense,” Kelly said. “How stupid would it be for me, with my crazy past and what I’ve been through — oh, right now I just think I need to be a monster, hold girls against their will, chain them up in my basement, and don’t let them eat, don’t let them out, unless they need some shoes down the street from their uncle!”
King tried to interject, but Kelly stood up, screaming and pounding his fists. “Stop it! Y’all quit playing! Quit playing! I didn’t do this stuff! This is not me! . . . Y’all trying to kill me!” he said.
Last month, Kelly, 52, pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The crimes took place between 1998 and 2010 and involved four victims, three of whom were under 17, according to charging documents.
“CBS This Morning” aired several portions of Kelly’s 80-minute sit-down with King. She noted that Kelly “didn’t rant for the whole hour and a half, but he got very emotional several times.”
Later in the week, CBS will air King’s interview with two of Kelly’s much-younger live-in girlfriends, whose parents claim the singer has brainwashed their daughters.
“I love them. It’s like, they’re my girlfriends,” Kelly said. “We have a relationship. It’s real.”
When King pointed out the age gap between the women and Kelly, the singer responded: “I don’t look at ‘much younger’ than me. I just look at ‘legal.’ I just look at, you [are] you, I’m me.”
Kelly also said the parents pushed the young women on him and accused the parents of turning on him because of money. “What kind of father, what kind of mother will sell their daughter to a man?” Kelly asked.
In response to the interview, the parents of one of Kelly’s live-in girlfriends, Azriel Clary, 21, released a statement through their lawyer, Michael Avenatti: “We have never received a penny from R. Kelly. We never asked R. Kelly for money. And we never ‘sold’ our daughter to him or anyone else.”
The parents of the other girlfriend, Joycelyn Savage, 23, plan to hold a news conference later Wednesday.
The sit-down with King represents Kelly’s most wide-ranging interview since a 2017 BuzzFeed story revived attention to Kelly’s behavior. In the story from journalist Jim DeRogatis — who has chronicled Kelly’s alleged behavior for years — former girlfriends and others described Kelly as an R&B superstar who controls the movements and lives of a group of live-in sexual partners. The parents of one of those girlfriends described the situation as “a cult.”
In 2015, Kelly became increasingly erratic and walked out during a HuffPost Live interview when he was asked whether past allegations would impact his album sales. In a 2008 BET interview, music journalist Touré asked Kelly, “Do you like teenage girls?” Kelly responded, “When you say ‘teenage,’ how old are we talking?”
Kelly, who has long denied wrongdoing, has settled several sexual and physical abuse lawsuits over the years. His behavior toward women has been scrutinized ever since it was revealed that, at 27, he illegally married his 15-year-old protegee Aaliyah. (Her parents had the union expunged.)
The multipart docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly” took a sweeping look at allegations against the singer, including that he began several relationships with underage girls and that he was emotionally manipulative and abusive.
In the fallout, Kelly and his label, Sony subsidiary RCA Records, parted ways. Musicians who had collaborated with him, including Lady Gaga and Chance the Rapper, have apologized for working with him.
In 2008, Kelly was tried on several counts of child pornography, stemming from a tape that prosecutors said showed Kelly having sex with a minor. More than a dozen witnesses at the trial identified the person in the video as an underage girl — but the alleged victim and her parents did not testify. Kelly was acquitted on all 14 counts.
Sonia Rao contributed to this report.